31 Mar

Bruce Webster pnws j00!

Bruce Webster is a floor wax AND a cake icing. He’s a lawyer right now, but once upon a time he coded computer games. More precisely, Apple II games.

Or game.



Look, the plot isn’t in the way, but consists of the following. Your privateer uncle died and left you a beatup old ship called the Sundog. He had a commission to help defrost some colonists on the planet Jondd, in a place called Banville. Yes, defrost. They’re frozen, see? So there are various stages–at each stage you have to bring them stuff to help get them going. Stage one they need four things: wood/fibers, seeds/sprouts, grains/cereals, and fruits/vegetables. Anyway, you have to repair your ship, and run all over the local systems buying low and selling high to fulfill your commission.

Sounds pretty old and tired doesn’t it? Well, you’ve got to give Sundog some credit for being among the first to ever implement gameplay like that. And secondly, it’s very satifying to play. I never had an ST or an II, but I still pick this game up every once and a while and play a bit. I don’t really know why–I’m just attached to it.

Here’s the interior of the ship.


There are actually several stations here where you might have to repair ship’s systems with spares–such as during battle.

Here’s the warp drive system interface. Any one of those 16 components might blow. And there are also some high price items that can replace some of these and give you higher functions. Such as the Ground Scanner module, that will allow you to land at ANY city, not just a space port.


Here I am driving my “pod” around town. Helps keep you from getting mugged, as happens pretty frequently on foot. However, don’t forget to park in a secure parking lot–or someone will break into your pod and clean out all your stuff. (Don’t park in the street either, or you will probably get a ticket. No, I’m serious 🙂


Once, I played it most of the night in a server room watching software install.

There’s not much in the way of graphics (although the Atari ST version is much better–more in a minute), and there’s the odd barrier to smooth gameplay (why can’t I sell more than one thing to one person?), and what’s up with trade goods locations (does it make sense that urbanized planets only sell like woods/fibers and some little nowhereville has the highest tech stuff)? Oh, and the joystick-like control isn’t great.

But these are just nitpicks. The game, old as it is, is quite immersive. How it pulls it off, I’ll never know.

If you really want all the info on the game, go to http://www.lukin.com/sundog/

If you want to play it, well, that’s something different. You need an emulator. I suggest STeem, the ST emulator. You’ll need the Atari OS roms. And lastly, you’ll need an ST disk image. The one I have has Bubble Ghost on it as well. w00t.

Go here to get STeemed http://steem.atari.st/

Don’t forget the OS images http://steem.atari.st/download.htm

And lastly, from one of the best sites in the known universe, get Sundog itself http://www.the-underdogs.org/game.php?id=1429

Funny thing is, I tried to find an Amiga ADF version of Bubble Ghost and came up empty. My brother brought one up from Nashville once on a visit when I was about 14, but somehow he took all the game disks back with him and could never find that one again.

31 Mar


So, I’m shooting for 1200 or less calories each day.  And, I’m using one of the best free web applications (Fitday.com) I’ve ever seen for this.  It’s not that it’s pretty–just REALLY functional.  I’m sure that once upon a time, people could actually do things without memberships to various websites, but not anymore.  We’re helpless without them.


Start drinking zero calorie drinks.  Really, and I mean it.  And don’t complain that they just don’t taste good–you’re right, they aren’t exact copies.  Big deal.  Look at the math (based upon 2 cans per day at the office):

Calories Each
Calories Weekly
Percent of Goal
Dr. Pepper
Diet Dr. Pepper

Hello?  By drinking a diet soda, I can actually take in nearly one third more calories than if I drank a regular soda.  (Ok, yeah, I realize that it would be better just to drink water–but that really isn’t the point of this post 🙂  Try this on for size–get a 12 pack of Diet A&W Root Beer.  Keep it really cold in the office fridge.  Promise yourself that you won’t drink any other kind of soda until it’s gone–you’ll probably surprise yourself. 

31 Mar

Sci-fi paperbacks

Old sci-fi paperbacks are great. I even love the smell of the local half-price book store. I think back to the summer vacations from Greenwood, when Ted O’brien, his little brother Mike, and I would go to the book store with a grocery sack of paperbacks with which we were willing to part. We’d check them in for in-store credit, add a ten dollar bill or so to the kitty, and walk out with two “new” sacks full of dog-eared sci-fi novels.

On the way out of the place, the owner would always say, “Read fast and come back.”

I had a strategy for selecting books. There were always a few books or authors on my rabidly-sought list…but part of the fun was selecting at random. And just how did you do that? Why, the cover art, certainly!


I believe Don Dixon is personally responsible for my purchase of all of Michael McCollum’s novels. Particularly Procyon’s Promise…somthing about the artwork caught my eye–I read the book, and was hooked on the author.

Check out the artwork of Don Dixon.

Last I knew, Ted was on a fellowship to the University of Florida to do his post-graduate work. I saw him one Sunday afternoon a eight or so years ago at his parents’ house. I’m sure he has his PhD by now–which would be an even greater accomplishment in the face of his battles with MD.

31 Mar


I love image tools. Oddly, I don’t really have a favorite. Yeah, I like Photoshop–it’s a great package. But I also like Fireworks and Gimpshop.

And who DOESN’T love Irfan? ALOT of my image work is done solely with Irfan. Alt-Print Screen, and Ctrl-V it right into IrfanView. Save it as a JPG or a PNG. Actually, I’m trying to get away from JPG now… I really need to stop and do some testing with filesizes and quality levels between the two formats. I’ll save that for a future blog post.

Fireworks is the stepchild of Macromedia Flash and rarely gets any respect compared to the powerhouse Photoshop and the indie street-cred of the Gimp. But Fireworks is fast and easy, doesn’t have weirdo interface rules, and puts out great results. Really–does ANYONE get the Photoshop’s interface the first time they try to use it? Give me a break.

Anyway, here’s a quickie I did by scamming a friend’s picture out of our employee database and, uh, adding to it 🙂 The name has been blanked to protect the not-so-innocent.

Before, and After:


So, it’s not GREAT–I never said I was a pro. I just have fun with it. Not only that, this took all of 5 minutes.

And sometimes, it’s SUPPOSED to look fake. I work with a guy that shares the same name as Maureen McCormick’s husband (Marsha Brady – The Brady Bunch). I have NO idea how I found that out, so don’t even bother asking. But, nonetheless, an opportunity presented iself, and I spewgged his head into the photo. The REAL guy in the photo actually has a huge grape to begin with so it’s not totally my fault…


Lastly, one that’s more complex. Bill drank about one Red Bull a day. So, once again to the employee database. But this one required Anim8or to build a quick 3D model, Photoshop, Flash to do a quick background, and Fireworks to add all of the texture components together. I think I had to find some other little tool to help make the texture wrapping map…but anyway, then I loaded it into Anim8or and finished it up. I was going to paste it over a mountain bike scene or something, which is why the can is sitting at an strange angle–it was going to be flying out of the picture like a Mt. Dew add.


But I ran out of time…after a total of about 30 to 45 minutes I had wasted enough time on a practical joke.

Uh…one word of caution…always make sure that an image prank will be well received. After all, you gotta work with these people 🙂

30 Mar

Nessus Revisited

I spent a little time documenting my trip down Nessus lane–which is why I haven’t posted as much this week. Sorry. Click the link over on the left and be amazed at teh m4d skilz.


22 Mar

Who needs Nerdo?

The time of Nero has come and gone. It was great. Man, I remember the first time I used it–the big dog before that had been Adaptec EasyCD Creator. Which was rarely “easy”, and rarely “created” anything but coasters. Ah, the bygone era.

Now is the time of the ISO.

If you d/l any type of Linux, it will be on ISO. I updated a WatchGuard firewall the other day, and they are distributing on ISO. Someone can correct me, but aren’t all of the MSDN downloads ISO images? (If they’re not, they should be.)

I don’t use Nero any more–I have 3 tools that get me anywhere I want to go in the world of CDs (and DVDs).

First of all, you need the marvelous ISO Recorder Power Toy, by Mr. Alex Feinman. Just install it. It plugs into Windows Explorer to give you some new context menus. So, you want to copy a CD? Fine, put it in a drive, right-click, and choose “Copy CD to CD”. Or, right-click on a folder full of files and select “Create ISO Image File”.

At this point, the ISO Wiz4rd pops up and lets fly. Depending on how you’re using it, it might ask you for a file location.

Cool, I can copy CDs without Nero. Is that all?

Well, you can then use the equally wonderful and free Virtual CD Control Panel from Microsoft. It is unsupported, btw, and the risk to your PC and/or your sacred honor is yours alone to bear.

This great little program allows one to mount those ISO images as a virtual CD-ROM drive. It is EASY to install (if you follow the instructions). It works great for me. I travel quite a bit on business, and with this setup, I don’t have haul a lot of CDs with me on the plane. If I need one, I just load it up. I can burn it on-site if necessary.

As you can see, I’ve got lunix redhate loaded all up ons my Z: drive.

22 Mar

Every word is planned to mystify you…

Is it just me or are MP3 players just intrinsically cool?

Centurytel was pleased to send me a free Dell DJ Ditty (512MB). It has a GREAT interface, built in USB (which also recharges the battery), and even a built in FM radio (for those wacky talk stations). I can HIGHLY recommend this little player.

My wife is getting an iPod Shuffle. Again for free, this time from a NetGear promo. I don’t know much about this player, but we’ll see how it works out for her.

Too bad I can’t get an iSophagus with neckTunes. It actually holds more songs than have ever been written!

Funny thing is, I didn’t know how much I’d use one. BSG podcasts, all kindsa stuff. Love it. I may have to get a full blown iPod one day…but I’ll hold off in the face of the rumors of the new video iPod with a 4″ screen. (The pic below is even named “fake” so you’ll be sure not to miss it.) However, it is interesting in light of the new patents for which Apple is applying, particularly the “touch screen with gesture control”.

Fake, but cool.

21 Mar

Arcade machine auctions

Well, what could possibly be cooler than having your own arcarde game standing in a basement? How about five?

I certainly intend to build a mame machine as soon as time presents–but it’s kinda hard to build a pinball table. So why not buy at an auction? Evidently they are more commonplace than I would have dreamed. A quick google found several very close to my point of origin, with hundreds of games just waiting to be purchased. Pac-man, galaga; sure–but there were even a few that I didn’t even recognize.

If I can get my house finished, and if we get it on the market, and if someone buys it; then I’ll certainly check out the very next auction.

Here’s some links!



18 Mar


Nessus is free. Right?  Sure, you can go right there and download it https://www.nessus.org

Unfortunately, if you want to DO anything with it, you need a console.  There are a couple of free ones, but the only enterprise ready console is called Lightning (soon to be Security Center) from Tenable.  For my business, what I need is automated scanning and serious reporting features. 

Lightning is http://www.tenablesecurity.com/products/lightning.shtml

The free client is http://nessuswx.nessus.org/

And yes, naturally, they license Lightning by active IP addresses, so it grows expensive REALLY fast.  Maybe I’m missing the boat here.  Once again, though, there’s no such thing as free software 🙂  And the linux part isn’t the problem–it’s the licensing plan.  Once you get to $20K or so, you should be at an enterprise level and be done with it.